Last june, Facebook introduced hashtags on their platform. It did not make a big splash. After Twitter, Instagram & many others leading social platforms, Facebook was late into the game, and it appeared as ‘one more copy/paste’ of the giant.
See my previous blog post for what It means for you.
Yet, we think that the hashtags are a promise to revive the social marketing, by crafting hashtags campaigns that cross multiple social media to boost engagement.
This is what we call a ‘Conversational campaign’, because it’s not necessarily about a quiz, creative participatory marketing actions, or a free sampling, but it’s about social currency. Social currency is when people talk positively about your brand to others. With social media, this social currency has more reach, can be public (hence you can reuse it) and credible (tight to a social profile). The job of the marketer is to act as a catalyst, to spark & scale this social currency.
It starts simply, with the key question a marketer should always keep in mind (at least in my opinion): “What is conversation-worthy about or around my product or my brand?”. What could consumers talk about ?
There are 4 options:
- About the product (is is new ? What is special about it?)
- Around the product (meaning some adjacent theme, think about cinema for television manufacturers),
- About the brand (what is so cool, fun or interesting about it ? Think about the “#Shareacokewith” campaign)
- Around the brand (think about some values people care that represent well your brand, like the ‘You are beautiful’ campaign from Dove).
Watch out: if you’re too self-centric, your campaign will likely not pick up steam. If you forget your brand or product too much, you may do a nice campaign but it won’t help you reach your targets.
Based on that you can craft a conversational campaign that will make a difference, because it will be at the intersection of what you care about (your business objectives) & what consumers care. You will leverage the inherent viral impact of social media to create & amplify social currency. But there are a few steps required.
First, you should choose a hashtag: you can include (or not) your brand name into it – Coca-cola did it with “#Shareacokewith” campaign. Make sure it’s not too generic or not too long or too difficult to remember. Beware of irony – how could the hashtag be misused ? What is it about your company that could be subject of an attack ? You should not be held by fear (a bit of bashtagging, some might say, is better than no conversation at all), but simply be prepared.
Next, you should select the social media you want to run your activation campaign – based on your audience, but as well the tone you want to create. Twitter is more prone to ‘witty comments’ but as well irony. Facebook, being more mainstream, is more direct & blunt. Instagram & Vine, more visual of course, so your hashtags must be prone to it. You can do an ‘all in’ if you dare, and let people use it in any social media (actually you can’t control it so it might be the best option) – but you should select a ‘core network’ that will be your main target to create some virality.
Obviously you need to define how you are going to spark the conversation. It won’t necessarily spread like wildfire on the Internet. You will need to spark it using traditional campaigns, social ads campaigns & other mechanisms. You can add a salt of creativity too, by crafting a video that showcase what your hashtag is all about.
Then how are you going to maintain & scale the conversation ? This requires a constant attention from the community manager, by replying, retweeting (or liking) the best posts, and smart use of social ads tool like promoted posts, promoted tweets & trends.
Just like broadcasters do, you will recognize your community by showcasing the best engagement you got: on a website, TV screen, billboard – you name it. Obviously this selected, curated content (or streamed if you dare put it all) will be of highly interest to a flock of passive visitors who are curious about the brand or product. You need to select how you are going to demonstrate this recognition, and make sure you do have people see it (another part of a campaign), and that the people who got showcased know about it. This feedback loop is crucial because it shows that you are genuinely interested into those conversations, not only to those selected, but to the whole community.
One approach is to divide the campaign into two parts. The first part is the engagement campaign, in which you will activate a minority of ambassadors, and the second part is the ‘amplification’ campaign, in which you will showcase this great social currency (more credible than your voice) to a larger majority. This large majority will make the difference on your bottom line, as this is the only thing they care about: social proof, and they constitute the new clients you are targeting.
Net, you will have created a qualitative campaign, showed the ‘conversation worthiness’ of your brand/product, and reached your objectives, because it will create the relevant conversations to a relevant audience, and that, at the end of the day, this is what marketing is increasingly about, not more, not less.